Firstly, thanks again to everyone who has sponsored me this year, its hugely appreciated. Training throughout the summer was pretty good generally but the knee injury still persists that scuppered marathon plans in April (though I'm having an MRI scan next month and barring being completely consigned to the scrap heap will definitely have another crack). Rather than keep pushing the injury as much as I could (like I stupidly did before) I had a period of about 3 weeks before the triathlon where I didn't run, but instead replaced the running with more cycling and swimming, which actually really influenced the race as my running turned out to suffer more than i thought it would.. BUT... I made it to the start line this time!! Woohoo!
Anyway.. it was a cold, wet and windy day on Sunday and I was a bag of nerves when Bro turned up. I thought I was pretty well prepared but was struggling to get my bike tyres up to a good pressure and still didnt have a race belt (compulsory apparently).. trivial but annoying... didn't want to be faffing around before the race.. A13 was chocka on the way there and the road signs for the race parking seemed to peter out after a while leaving us in the middle of the royal docks industrial estate without much of a clue, got to the excel centre with 90 minutes before the race which was fine in the end. Was also good to pick Robs brains about triathlon and pick up some last minute tips.
Got registered, got the race belt, got the bike racked and there were lots of helpful triathletes to talk to about tyres, and I even got my own pump working in the end so everything was sorted. There were a lot of bikes (apparently london is the worlds biggest triathlon).
Then got into the slightly knackered wet suit I'd bought second hand off the web for 30 quid. All my swim training had been in the pool so I'd only tried it once a couple of weeks before on holiday in France - and I didn't sink so that was good enough for me. Pretty soon it was time to get to the swim assembly area, very exciting.
Then there was a pre race pep talk, where we found out our wave of 400 would be split into two. Probably not a bad idea... Then it was a short walk outside, jump in the water, followed by a lot of shouting and we were underway.
To cut a long story short it went pretty well even with all the inevitable bumps and kicks. The wind was making the water very choppy so I was drinking quite a lot of the dock while trying to breath. Going downwind seemed much easier and I was able to spot the course buoys a lot easier so i spent less time zig zagging down the course and drinking water. Pretty soon it was time to get hauled out and wrestle with the wetsuit.
After shedding the wetsuit with the grace of a startled baby giraffe it was time to run through to the transition area, miss the turning for my bike, then slip and fall over on my backside, again with the grace of something not very graceful.
Out on the bike was pretty treacherous with all the rain and the standing water on the roads, and the headwinds were really testing. Lots of folks seemed to have punctures which seemed pretty odd, I really hoped I didn't get one as I left my spare inner tube and pump at transition. Rob braved the elements and tried to take some more pics - Im surprised he didnt go inside for a coffee - it was freezing, tipping it down and horrible (but I was loving every minute of it!!)
I actually felt pretty good and quite fancied doing some more laps - I think the speedy 100km training rides with Marcus (thanks Marcus!) set me up nicely (although it didn't seem like it at the time when I was vomiting at the top of a particularly long hill in Hertfordshire a couple of months ago).
Bike was coming to an end now so I was starting to think about the transition and slipping out of my bike shoes. There were a few other competitors with me as we came back to Excel and there was an early order to dismount (apparently to avoid riding round a corner which people had been crashing on all day), unfortunately this caused one of the other guys to slam on his brakes and crash into a barrier, luckily he seemed ok, and he got straight back up after a bit of a fight with his bike. After the dismount we ran a few yards then had to get back on and immediately go up a ramp, obviously i couldnt get back in my shoes so I had to pedal on top of them, all a bit nip and tuck but got there. There was much swearing from the other competitors about having to dismount early then get back on but there's little more that the stewards could do.
Got the bike back and managed to not slip over even though my feet were frozen. Got my socks and trainers on and grabbed a bag of lucozade jelly beans for the run. Rob was already on the course, so we had a bit of a laugh each time i ran past (there were 4 laps) and he would take a picture of my deteriorating running style as i started to get a terrible cramp in my lower back (remarkably my knee was fine) which pretty much crippled me for the last 3 laps. This resulted in a bit of a slow run, which also included a SteepleChase style water jump where the water had built up to be ankle deep thus soaking everyones nice dry trainers almost immediately!
In the last couple of years I have done many 10km runs and I was shocked just how much I tied up in this one, but I was pleased with the swim and the bike so 2 out of 3 ain't bad. Luckily Rob and the hardy crowd were giving loads of encouragement and that got us through, and I was really wincing with pain as I got over the finish line in 2:41:44.
Many thanks to Rob for taking the pics and helping out on the day. Definitely a day to remember and a long journey from turning up at my first "Learn To Front Crawl" swim class in Shoreditch 11 months ago (i coudnt swim a single length). I'd definitely like to try another race next year, it was so much fun, but for now attention turns back to marathons and finishing off the marathon/tri challenge for the MS Society.